robertogreco + commencementspeeches   37

Middle-Aged Moralists – Snakes and Ladders
"When C. S. Lewis gave the Memorial Address at King’s College, London in 1944 — the occasion being very like an American university commencement — he began by commenting, “When you invite a middle-aged moralist to address you, I suppose I must conclude, however unlikely the conclusion seems, that you have a taste for middle-aged moralising. I shall do my best to gratify it.”

It was a shrewd move. Lewis himself always loathed the pompous didacticism he had found endemic to the English educational system, and expected that his audience would too. “Everyone knows what a middle-aged moralist of my type warns his juniors against. He warns them against the World, the Flesh, and the Devil.” But with a smile on his face, he declared that he would play to type: “I shall, in fact, give you advice about the world in which you are going to live.”

Let’s fast-forward about sixty years, to a commencement address at Stanford University. The speaker this time is not a professor but rather a businessman named Steve Jobs, and he makes it clear from the outset that he’ll not be doing any “middle-aged moralising.” Rather, he says, “Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.”

And yet it’s not clear, when you think about it, that Jobs’s message is any less moralistic than Lewis’s. It just bears a different moral.

Lewis warns his listeners against the power of what he calls the “Inner Ring” — the desire to belong to a certain admirable group, to be allowed to sit at the cool kids’ table — because he believes that, among all our desires, that one is the most likely to make un-wicked people do wicked things.

Jobs also warns his listeners, but warns them not to allow Death, when he knocks on their door, to find them “living someone else’s life.” Lewis points to the dangers of letting the desire to belong make you a “scoundrel,” and while Jobs too thinks others can endanger us, he frames that danger very differently: “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.”

This is the permissible moralism of 2005: College graduates can be exhorted, but not to the old-fashioned virtues that Lewis implicitly appeals to, but rather to self-fulfillment: For Jobs, what is “most important” is this: “have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”

This makes a neat story, once which can be read either as emancipation from constricting rules or as a decline into egotism. But the story gets slightly more complex if we look at one more middle-aged moralist: David Foster Wallace.

Wallace was, I’d say, barely middle-aged when he delivered the commencement address at Kenyon College just a few weeks before Jobs spoke at Stanford: he was 43. (Jobs was 50, and when Lewis gave his “Inner Ring” address he was 45.) If Lewis acknowledges that the genre invites moralism and cheerfully accepts the invitation, and Jobs disavows moralism but delivers it anyway, in a new form, Wallace seems almost desperate to avoid any such thing.

Having begun with a little story about fish, he continues, “If you’re worried that I plan to present myself here as the wise old fish explaining what water is, please don’t be. I am not the wise old fish.” Then: “But please don’t worry that I’m getting ready to preach to you about compassion or other-directedness or the so-called ‘virtues.’” And: “Again, please don’t think that I’m giving you moral advice, or that I’m saying you’re ‘supposed to’ think this way.” Finally: “Obviously, you can think of [this talk] whatever you wish. But please don’t dismiss it as some finger-wagging Dr Laura sermon.” Please.

Yet for all those disavowals, Wallace’s speech may be the most passionately moralistic of them all, though in a complex way. He tells us to be suspicious of that inner inner voice that Jobs wants us to listen to, because that voice always says the same thing: “There is no experience you’ve had that you were not at the absolute center of.” Consequently, our “natural, hard-wired default setting … is to be deeply and literally self-centred, and to see and interpret everything through this lens of self.”

And why should we want to think otherwise? Why should we turn outward? Not in order to avoid becoming scoundrels, Wallace says, but because such other-directedness can bring us freedom. “The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom.”

Substantively, it seems to me, Wallace’s ethic is far closer to that of Lewis than to that of Jobs, though he and Jobs were near-contemporaries and formed by much the same culture. (Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters was one of Wallace’s favorite books.) But he could not, and knew he could not, speak as Lewis spoke — even with an ironic nod towards the inevitable clichés of the commencement-speech genre.

Universities still invite middle-aged moralists (professors rarely, writers and business leaders more often) to give speeches to their graduating students, even though those students are generally inoculated against middle-aged moralism — the moralism of self-fulfillment always excepted. What’s remarkable about Wallace’s speech, which has become the great canonical example of the genre, is that he found a way to rescue the occasion; and that he rescued it by pretending to refuse it."
commencementaddresses  2019  1944  2005  alanjacobs  via:lukeneff  davidfosterwallace  cslewis  stevejobs  moralism  morality  advice  middleage  commencementspeeches 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Class Day Lecture: Teju Cole - YouTube
[See also: https://www.harvardmagazine.com/2019/05/commencement-teju-cole ]

"The GSD has named Teju Cole as its 2019 Class Day speaker. Teju Cole is a novelist, essayist, photographer, and curator. His books include Open City, Blind Spot and, most recently, Human Archipelago. He has been honored with the PEN/Hemingway Award, the Internationaler Literaturpreis, the Windham Campbell Prize, and a Guggenheim Fellowship, among many other prizes. His photography has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions, and he was the photography critic of the New York Times Magazine from 2015 until 2019. He is the Gore Vidal Professor of the Practice of Creative Writing at Harvard."
tejucole  2019  commencementaddresses  design  refugees  tonimorrison  fascism  patriarchy  whitesupremacy  oppression  complicity  power  doors  sandiego  borderfieldstatepark  friendshippark  border  borders  migration  immigration  us  mexico  tijuana  borderpatrol  humanism  grace  chivalry  hospitality  humans  kindness  commencementspeeches 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Ursula K. Le Guin: A Left-Handed Commencement Address
"So what I hope for you is that you live there not as prisoners, ashamed of being women, consenting captives of a psychopathic social system, but as natives. That you will be at home there, keep house there, be your own mistress, with a room of your own. That you will do your work there, whatever you’re good at, art or science or tech or running a company or sweeping under the beds, and when they tell you that it’s second-class work because a woman is doing it, I hope you tell them to go to hell and while they’re going to give you equal pay for equal time. I hope you live without the need to dominate, and without the need to be dominated. I hope you are never victims, but I hope you have no power over other people. And when you fail, and are defeated, and in pain, and in the dark, then I hope you will remember that darkness is your country, where you live, where no wars are fought and no wars are won, but where the future is. Our roots are in the dark; the earth is our country. Why did we look up for blessing — instead of around, and down? What hope we have lies there. Not in the sky full of orbiting spy-eyes and weaponry, but in the earth we have looked down upon. Not from above, but from below. Not in the light that blinds, but in the dark that nourishes, where human beings grow human souls."
via:anne  ursulaleguin  hierarchy  patriarchy  power  millscollege  commencementaddresses  1983  society  victims  darkness  domination  control  commencementspeeches 
july 2018 by robertogreco
You are Brilliant, and the Earth is Hiring :: Paul Hawken's Commencement Address to the Class of 2009 — YES! Magazine
"When I was invited to give this speech, I was asked if I could give a simple short talk that was “direct, naked, taut, honest, passionate, lean, shivering, startling, and graceful.” No pressure there.

Let’s begin with the startling part. Class of 2009: you are going to have to figure out what it means to be a human being on earth at a time when every living system is declining, and the rate of decline is accelerating. Kind of a mind-boggling situation… but not one peer-reviewed paper published in the last thirty years can refute that statement. Basically, civilization needs a new operating system, you are the programmers, and we need it within a few decades.

This planet came with a set of instructions, but we seem to have misplaced them. Important rules like don’t poison the water, soil, or air, don’t let the earth get overcrowded, and don’t touch the thermostat have been broken. Buckminster Fuller said that spaceship earth was so ingeniously designed that no one has a clue that we are on one, flying through the universe at a million miles per hour, with no need for seat belts, lots of room in coach, and really good food—but all that is changing.

There is invisible writing on the back of the diploma you will receive, and in case you didn’t bring lemon juice to decode it, I can tell you what it says: You are Brilliant, and the Earth is Hiring. The earth couldn’t afford to send recruiters or limos to your school. It sent you rain, sunsets, ripe cherries, night blooming jasmine, and that unbelievably cute person you are dating. Take the hint. And here’s the deal: Forget that this task of planet-saving is not possible in the time required. Don’t be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see ifit was impossible only after you are done.

When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand the data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse. What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world. The poet Adrienne Rich wrote, “So much has been destroyed I have cast my lot with those who, age after age, perversely, with no extraordinary power, reconstitute the world.” There could be no better description. Humanity is coalescing. It is reconstituting the world, and the action is taking place in schoolrooms, farms, jungles, villages,campuses, companies, refuge camps, deserts, fisheries, and slums.

You join a multitude of caring people. No one knows how many groups and organizations are working on the most salient issues of our day: climate change, poverty, deforestation, peace, water, hunger, conservation, human rights, and more. This is the largest movement the world has ever seen. Rather than control, it seeks connection. Rather than dominance, it strives to disperse concentrations of power. Like Mercy Corps, it works behind the scenes and gets the job done. Large as it is, no one knows the true size of this movement. It provides hope, support, and meaning to billions of people in the world. Its clout resides in idea, not in force. It is made up of teachers, children, peasants, businesspeople, rappers, organic farmers, nuns, artists, government workers, fisherfolk, engineers, students, incorrigible writers, weeping Muslims, concerned mothers, poets, doctors without borders, grieving Christians, street musicians, the President of the United States of America, and as the writer David James Duncan would say, the Creator, the One who loves us all in such a huge way.

There is a rabbinical teaching that says if the world is ending and the Messiah arrives, first plant a tree, and then see if the story is true. Inspiration is not garnered from the litanies of what may befall us; it resides in humanity’s willingness to restore, redress, reform, rebuild, recover, reimagine, and reconsider. “One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice,” is Mary Oliver’s description of moving away from the profane toward a deep sense of connectedness to the living world.

Millions of people are working on behalf of strangers, even if the evening news is usually about the death of strangers. This kindness of strangers has religious, even mythic origins, and very specific eighteenth-century roots. Abolitionists were the first people to create a national and global movement to defend the rights of those they did not know. Until that time, no group had filed a grievance except on behalf of itself. The founders of this movement were largely unknown — Granville Clark, Thomas Clarkson, Josiah Wedgwood — and their goal was ridiculous on the face of it: at that time three out of four people in the world were enslaved. Enslaving each other was what human beings had done for ages. And the abolitionist movement was greeted with incredulity. Conservative spokesmen ridiculed the abolitionists as liberals, progressives, do-gooders, meddlers, and activists. They were told they would ruin the economy and drive England into poverty. But for the first time in history a group of people organized themselves to help people they would never know, from whom they would never receive direct or indirect benefit. And today tens of millions of people do this every day. It is called the world of non-profits, civil society, schools, social entrepreneurship, non-governmental organizations, and companies who place social and environmental justice at the top of their strategic goals. The scope and scale of this effort is unparalleled in history.

The living world is not “out there” somewhere, but in your heart. What do we know about life? In the words of biologist Janine Benyus, life creates the conditions that are conducive to life. I can think of no better motto for a future economy. We have tens of thousands of abandoned homes without people and tens of thousands of abandoned people without homes. We have failed bankers advising failed regulators on how to save failed assets. We are the only species on the planet without full employment. Brilliant. We have an economy that tells us that it is cheaper to destroy earth in real time rather than renew, restore, and sustain it. You can print money to bail out a bank but you can’t print life to bail out a planet. At present we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it gross domestic product. We can just as easily have an economy that is based on healing the future instead of stealing it. We can either create assets for the future or take the assets of the future. One is called restoration and the other exploitation. And whenever we exploit the earth we exploit people and cause untold suffering. Working for the earth is not a way to get rich, it is a way to be rich.

The first living cell came into being nearly 40 million centuries ago, and its direct descendants are in all of our bloodstreams. Literally you are breathing molecules this very second that were inhaled by Moses, Mother Teresa, and Bono. We are vastly interconnected. Our fates are inseparable. We are here because the dream of every cell is to become two cells. And dreams come true. In each of you are one quadrillion cells, 90 percent of which are not human cells. Your body is a community, and without those other microorganisms you would perish in hours. Each human cell has 400 billion molecules conducting millions of processes between trillions of atoms. The total cellular activity in one human body is staggering: one septillion actions at any one moment, a one with twenty-four zeros after it. In a millisecond, our body has undergone ten times more processes than there are stars in the universe, which is exactly what Charles Darwin foretold when he said science would discover that each living creature was a “little universe, formed of a host of self-propagating organisms, inconceivably minute and as numerous as the stars of heaven.”

So I have two questions for you all: First, can you feel your body? Stop for a moment. Feel your body. One septillion activities going on simultaneously, and your body does this so well you are free to ignore it, and wonder instead when this speech will end. You can feel it. It is called life. This is who you are. Second question: who is in charge of your body? Who is managing those molecules? Hopefully not a political party. Life is creating the conditions that are conducive to life inside you, just as in all of nature. Our innate nature is to create the conditions that are conducive to life. What I want you to imagine is that collectively humanity is evincing a deep innate wisdom in coming together to heal the wounds and insults of the past.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of course. The world would create new religions overnight. We would be ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous by the glory of God. Instead, the stars come out every night and we watch television.

This extraordinary time when we are globally aware of each other and the multiple dangers that threaten civilization has never happened, not in a thousand years, not in ten thousand years. Each of us is as complex and beautiful as all the stars in the universe. We have done great things and we have gone way off course in terms of honoring creation. You are graduating to the most amazing, stupefying challenge ever bequested to any generation. The generations before you failed. They didn’t stay up all night. They got distracted and lost sight of the fact that life is a miracle every moment of your existence. Nature beckons you to be on her side. You couldn’t ask for a … [more]
paulhawken  humanity  2009  commencementaddresses  environment  sustainability  earth  peace  deforestation  poverty  climatechange  refugees  activism  davidjamesduncan  mercycorps  strangers  abolitionists  grnvilleclark  thomasclarkson  josiahwedgewood  progressives  england  anthropocene  civilization  globalwarming  movement  bodies  humans  morethanhuman  multispecies  interconnected  interdependence  charlesdarwin  janinebanyus  life  science  renewal  restoration  exploitation  capitalism  gdp  economics  maryoliver  adriennerich  ecology  interconnectedness  body  interconnectivity  commencementspeeches 
november 2017 by robertogreco
my first commencement speech | Abler.
"Congratulations, class of 2016. It’s an honor to be with you. I want to start with a story from candidates’ weekend this past February. As you all know, Candidates’ Weekends are when the applicants for admission who’ve made the first cut come to campus for a full weekend of events—events we design to help us understand them as people. You all did this some four years ago now.

So one thing I did on Candidate’s Weekend was the solo interview session. The setup is three of us: myself, as the faculty member, plus one current student, and one recent alumnus sit together to ask a series of questions of these young people. And—they’re 17, right, so they’re nervous. It’s a profound and moving thing to see up close their quivering hands, their flushed cheeks. We try to set them at ease and to learn something in a short amount of time: about what makes them tick, what they’re passionate about.

And at the end of each interview, as instructed, we allow for questions from the candidates themselves: and they do have questions—about Olin life, or what we like about engineering, things you would expect.

And on that day, these questions from the candidates were indeed more or less the usual fare. With one exception. We asked this one affable young high school student if he had any questions, and without missing a beat, he said, right away, he said: “What’s up with the doors here?” Just like that, totally unself-conscious. What’s up with the doors here? And my interview partners—the student and the alumnus—just *erupted* in recognition and laughter. Because apparently the doors at Olin are notorious among students for their poor design: it has been, for all these years, weirdly unclear whether and where you push or pull. It’s not intuitive where your weight should fall to hold them open. It’s awkward entering and exiting all over campus.

Lots of Olin students have remarked on and complained about this phenomenon, and here was this young person: so immediately alert to the subtlety of this condition in his first weekend here, and brazen enough to call it out.

That guy got in. I checked.

This young hopeful candidate for engineering school had found himself among his people. And I’m happy to say that in the intervening weeks and months since then, somehow some door cues—saying “push here” or “pull” have mysteriously appeared on various handles around campus. Not sure who’s responsible for that, but someone got the message.

Now. That story might seem like just a funny anecdote, but it actually reveals something big, I think, about engineering and engineers. Asking What’s up with the doors is more than an idle observation. I think it indicates a way of being in the world.

A lot of times engineering is framed as a penchant for problem-solving, in various permutations and with various caveats. Problem-solving: that is, skills and knowledge to materially improve the operations of the world. You’ve heard this.

But What’s up with the doors, I think, signals something more profound. It’s the full knowledge that the inherited conditions of the natural and built environment need not be as they are. It’s the understanding that atoms and bits—the material and the digital—these conditions aren’t permanent. They don’t have to remain mysterious. Atoms and bits, bits and atoms: unlocked, un-black-boxed, malleable, contingent.

To understand the systems of the built world is to know, in your bones, something powerful: that things might be otherwise. The doors, the engines, the mechanisms, the software and systems: you all know that these are the results of design decisions that can be reversed, unwound, utterly reconceived. Because you understand how they work. What’s up with the doors underscores that power, and it’s a power that you all now have. We send you out to the world with it. So: it’s a good day.

However. However.

I won’t cheapen this day by offering you a simple victory narrative. If only, IF ONLY the doors of the world were entirely made of wood and steel. If only it were so simple—to make the world better, just using atoms and bits.

Think about the doors of the immaterial kind: the portals, the thresholds, the entry points to human flourishing that are only open to some, and sealed shut for others. These are doors whose pushing open and pulling closed are social, political, interpersonal mechanisms—mechanisms that no amount of physics alone can sway.

In other words: to find yourself equipped as an engineer in the physical, technical sense—to be able to intervene and even dismantle the doors of the tangible, built world—is still to find yourself an ordinary citizen with a much harder set of questions to engage. How do we share this planet? How do we talk to each other, people unlike ourselves? How do we grapple with the legacies of history? How do we build not only the future we can construct, but the just and sustainable future we want to live in, one that includes all of us? To pry open and build these kinds of entrances, you will use your engineering, yes, but you’ll need so much more than that. You’ll need wisdom, and you’ll have to look for it and recognize it far outside of technology.

Be brave with these questions. Keep asking them. See that all kinds of openings and closings are everywhere.

And as you go out from here, know that the doors of this campus remain open to you."
sarahendren  olincollege  commencementaddresses  accessibility  engineering  2016  access  criticalthinking  problemsolving  doors  power  howthingswork  portals  thresholds  intervention  wisdom  technology  politics  commencementspeeches 
may 2016 by robertogreco
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie addressed the class of 2015 at Wellesley’s 137th Commencement Exercises
[video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcehZ3CjedU ]

"It’s really just to say that this, your graduation, is a good time to buy some lipsticks—if makeup is your sort of thing—because a good shade of lipstick can always put you in a slightly better mood on dark days.

It’s not about my discovering gender injustice because of course I had discovered years before then. From childhood. From watching the world.

I already knew that the world does not extend to women the many small courtesies that it extends to men.

I also knew that victimhood is not a virtue. That being discriminated against does not make you somehow morally better.

And I knew that men were not inherently bad or evil. They were merely privileged. And I knew that privilege blinds because it is the nature of privilege to blind.

I knew from this personal experience, from the class privilege I had of growing up in an educated family, that it sometimes blinded me, that I was not always as alert to the nuances of people who were different from me.

And you, because you now have your beautiful Wellesley degree, have become privileged, no matter what your background. That degree, and the experience of being here, is a privilege. Don’t let it blind you too often. Sometimes you will need to push it aside in order to see clearly."



"I always liked this story, and admired what I thought of as my mother’s fiercely feminist choice. I once told the story to a friend, a card carrying feminist, and I expected her to say bravo to my mother, but she was troubled by it.

"Why would your mother want to be called a chairman, as though she needed the MAN part to validate her?" my friend asked.

In some ways, I saw my friend’s point.

Because if there were a Standard Handbook published annually by the Secret Society of Certified Feminists, then that handbook would certainly say that a woman should not be called, nor want to be called, a CHAIRMAN.

But gender is always about context and circumstance.

If there is a lesson in this anecdote, apart from just telling you a story about my mother to make her happy that I spoke about her at Wellesley, then it is this: Your standardized ideologies will not always fit your life. Because life is messy."



"We can not always bend the world into the shapes we want but we can try, we can make a concerted and real and true effort. And you are privileged that, because of your education here, you have already been given many of the tools that you will need to try. Always just try. Because you never know.

And so as you graduate, as you deal with your excitement and your doubts today, I urge you to try and create the world you want to live in.

Minister to the world in a way that can change it. Minister radically in a real, active, practical, get your hands dirty way.

Wellesley will open doors for you. Walk through those doors and make your strides long and firm and sure.

Write television shows in which female strength is not depicted as remarkable but merely normal.

Teach your students to see that vulnerability is a HUMAN rather than a FEMALE trait.

Commission magazine articles that teach men HOW TO KEEP A WOMAN HAPPY. Because there are already too many articles that tell women how to keep a man happy. And in media interviews make sure fathers are asked how they balance family and work. In this age of ‘parenting as guilt,’ please spread the guilt equally. Make fathers feel as bad as mothers. Make fathers share in the glory of guilt.

Campaign and agitate for paid paternity leave everywhere in America.

Hire more women where there are few. But remember that a woman you hire doesn’t have to be exceptionally good. Like a majority of the men who get hired, she just needs to be good enough.

*

Recently a feminist organization kindly nominated me for an important prize in a country that will remain unnamed. I was very pleased. I’ve been fortunate to have received a few prizes so far and I quite like them especially when they come with shiny presents. To get this prize, I was required to talk about how important a particular European feminist woman writer had been to me. Now the truth was that I had never managed to finish this feminist writer’s book. It did not speak to me. It would have been a lie to claim that she had any major influence on my thinking. The truth is that I learned so much more about feminism from watching the women traders in the market in Nsukka where I grew up, than from reading any seminal feminist text. I could have said that this woman was important to me, and I could have talked the talk, and I could have been given the prize and a shiny present.

But I didn’t.

Because I had begun to ask myself what it really means to wear this FEMINIST label so publicly.

Just as I asked myself after excerpts of my feminism speech were used in a song by a talented musician whom I think some of you might know. I thought it was a very good thing that the word ‘feminist’ would be introduced to a new generation.

But I was startled by how many people, many of whom were academics, saw something troubling, even menacing, in this.

It was as though feminism was supposed to be an elite little cult, with esoteric rites of membership.

But it shouldn’t. Feminism should be an inclusive party. Feminism should be a party full of different feminisms.

And so, class of 2015, please go out there and make Feminism a big raucous inclusive party. "



"And as you graduate today, I urge you to think about that a little more. Think about what really matters to you. Think about what you WANT to really matter to you.

I read about your rather lovely tradition of referring to older students as “big sisters” and younger ones as “little sisters.” And I read about the rather strange thing about being thrown into the pond—and I didn’t really get that—but I would very much like to be your honorary big sister today.

Which means that I would like to give you bits of advice as your big sister:

All over the world, girls are raised to be make themselves likeable, to twist themselves into shapes that suit other people.

Please do not twist yourself into shapes to please. Don’t do it. If someone likes that version of you, that version of you that is false and holds back, then they actually just like that twisted shape, and not you. And the world is such a gloriously multifaceted, diverse place that there are people in the world who will like you, the real you, as you are.

I am lucky that my writing has given me a platform that I choose to use to talk about things that I care about, and
I have said a few things that have not been so popular with a number of people. I have been told to shut up about certain things – such as my position on the equal rights of gay people on the continent of Africa, such as my deeply held belief that men and women are completely equal. I don’t speak to provoke. I speak because I think our time on earth is short and each moment that we are not our truest selves, each moment we pretend to be what we are not, each moment we say what we do not mean because we imagine that is what somebody wants us to say, then we are wasting our time on earth.

I don’t mean to sound precious but please don’t waste your time on earth, but there is one exception. The only acceptable way of wasting your time on earth is online shopping.

Okay, one last thing about my mother. My mother and I do not agree on many things regarding gender. There are certain things my mother believes a person should do, for the simple reason that said person ‘is a woman.’ Such as nod occasionally and smile even when smiling is the last thing one wants to do. Such as strategically give in to certain arguments, especially when arguing with a non-female. Such as get married and have children. I can think of fairly good reasons for doing any of these. But ‘because you are a woman’ is not one of them. And so, Class of 2015, never ever accept ‘Because You Are A Woman’ as a reason for doing or not doing anything.

And, finally I would like to end with a final note on the most important thing in the world: love.

Now girls are often raised to see love only as giving. Women are praised for their love when that love is an act of giving. But to love is to give AND to take.

Please love by giving and by taking. Give and be given. If you are only giving and not taking, you'll know. You'll know from that small and true voice inside you that we females are so often socialized to silence.

Don’t silence that voice. Dare to take."
chimamandangoziadichie  chimamandaadichie  2015  commencementspeeches  gender  feminism  wellesley  love  likeability  ideology  messiness  life  living  inclusiveness  inclusivity  inclusion  commencementaddresses 
june 2015 by robertogreco
George Saunders's Advice to Graduates - NYTimes.com
"So, the second million-dollar question: How might we DO this? How might we become more loving, more open, less selfish, more present, less delusional, etc., etc?

Well, yes, good question.

Unfortunately, I only have three minutes left.

So let me just say this. There are ways. You already know that because, in your life, there have been High Kindness periods and Low Kindness periods, and you know what inclined you toward the former and away from the latter. Education is good; immersing ourselves in a work of art: good; prayer is good; meditation’s good; a frank talk with a dear friend; establishing ourselves in some kind of spiritual tradition – recognizing that there have been countless really smart people before us who have asked these same questions and left behind answers for us.

Because kindness, it turns out, is hard – it starts out all rainbows and puppy dogs, and expands to include…well, everything."



"Still, accomplishment is unreliable.  “Succeeding,” whatever that might mean to you, is hard, and the need to do so constantly renews itself (success is like a mountain that keeps growing ahead of you as you hike it), and there’s the very real danger that “succeeding” will take up your whole life, while the big questions go untended.

So, quick, end-of-speech advice: Since, according to me, your life is going to be a gradual process of becoming kinder and more loving: Hurry up. Speed it along. Start right now. There’s a confusion in each of us, a sickness, really: selfishness. But there’s also a cure. So be a good and proactive and even somewhat desperate patient on your own behalf – seek out the most efficacious anti-selfishness medicines, energetically, for the rest of your life."
2013  georgesaunders  commencementspeeches  kindness  life  wisdom  living  commencementaddresses 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Neil Gaiman: Keynote Address 2012 | The University of the Arts
"The first problem of any kind of even limited success is the unshakable conviction that you are getting away with something, and that any moment now they will discover you. It's Imposter Syndrome, something my wife Amanda christened the Fraud Police."



"People get hired because, somehow, they get hired."



"To all today's graduates: I wish you luck. Luck is useful. Often you will discover that the harder you work, and the more wisely you work, the luckier you get. But there is luck, and it helps.

We're in a transitional world right now, if you're in any kind of artistic field, because the nature of distribution is changing, the models by which creators got their work out into the world, and got to keep a roof over their heads and buy sandwiches while they did that, are all changing. I've talked to people at the top of the food chain in publishing, in bookselling, in all those areas, and nobody knows what the landscape will look like two years from now, let alone a decade away. The distribution channels that people had built over the last century or so are in flux for print, for visual artists, for musicians, for creative people of all kinds.

Which is, on the one hand, intimidating, and on the other, immensely liberating. The rules, the assumptions, the now-we're supposed to's of how you get your work seen, and what you do then, are breaking down. The gatekeepers are leaving their gates. You can be as creative as you need to be to get your work seen. YouTube and the web (and whatever comes after YouTube and the web) can give you more people watching than television ever did. The old rules are crumbling and nobody knows what the new rules are.

So make up your own rules."

[On Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikAb-NYkseI ]
neilgaiman  luck  howwework  freelancing  art  making  glvo  2012  commencementspeeches  life  living  worrying  rules  breakingrules  creativity  uncertainty  freedom  mistakes  failure  success  commencementaddresses 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Leon Wieseltier Commencement Speech at Brandeis University 2013 | New Republic
"Our glittering age of technologism is also a glittering age of scientism. Scientism is not the same thing as science. Science is a blessing, but scientism is a curse. Science, I mean what practicing scientists actually do, is acutely and admirably aware of its limits, and humbly admits to the provisional character of its conclusions; but scientism is dogmatic, and peddles certainties. It is always at the ready with the solution to every problem, because it believes that the solution to every problem is a scientific one, and so it gives scientific answers to non-scientific questions. But even the question of the place of science in human existence is not a scientific question. It is a philosophical, which is to say, a humanistic"



"So there is no task more urgent in American intellectual life at this hour than to offer some resistance to the twin imperialisms of science and technology, and to recover the old distinction — once bitterly contested, then generally accepted, now almost completely forgotten – between the study of nature and the study of man. As Bernard Williams once remarked, “’humanity’ is a name not merely for a species but also for a quality." You who have elected to devote yourselves to the study of literature and languages and art and music and philosophy and religion and history — you are the stewards of that quality. You are the resistance. You have had the effrontery to choose interpretation over calculation, and to recognize that calculation cannot provide an accurate picture, or a profound picture, or a whole picture, of self-interpreting beings such as ourselves; and I commend you for it.

There is no greater bulwark against the twittering acceleration of American consciousness than the encounter with a work of art, and the experience of a text or an image. You are the representatives, the saving remnants, of that encounter and that experience, and of the serious study of that encounter and that experience – which is to say, you are the counterculture. Perhaps culture is now the counterculture."



"In upholding the humanities, you uphold the honor of a civilization that was founded upon the quest for the true and the good and the beautiful. For as long as we are thinking and feeling creatures, creatures who love and imagine and suffer and die, the humanities will never be dispensable."
humanities  leonwieseltier  commencementspeeches  scientism  science  technology  humanism  knowledge  information  humans  art  thinking  philosophy  experience  resistance  counterculture  commencementaddresses 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Whedon '87 Delivers 181st Commencement Address
"You have, which is a rare thing, that ability and the responsibility to listen to the dissent in yourself, to at least give it the floor, because it is the key—not only to consciousness-but to real growth. To accept duality is to earn identity. And identity is something that you are constantly earning. It is not just who you are. It is a process that you must be active in. It’s not just parroting your parents or the thoughts of your learned teachers. It is now more than ever about understanding yourself so you can become yourself."



"The thing about our country is—oh, it’s nice, I like it—it’s not long on contradiction or ambiguity. It’s not long on these kinds of things. It likes things to be simple, it likes things to be pigeonholed—good or bad, black or white, blue or red. And we’re not that. We’re more interesting than that. And the way that we go into the world understanding is to have these contradictions in ourselves and see them in other people and not judge them for it. To know that, in a world where debate has kind of fallen away and given way to shouting and bullying, that the best thing is not just the idea of honest debate, the best thing is losing the debate, because it means that you learn something and you changed your position. The only way really to understand your position and its worth is to understand the opposite. That doesn’t mean the crazy guy on the radio who is spewing hate, it means the decent human truths of all the people who feel the need to listen to that guy. You are connected to those people. They’re connected to him. You can’t get away from it.

This connection is part of contradiction. It is the tension I was talking about. This tension isn’t about two opposite points, it’s about the line in between them, and it’s being stretched by them. We need to acknowledge and honor that tension, and the connection that that tension is a part of. Our connection not just to the people we love, but to everybody, including people we can’t stand and wish weren’t around. The connection we have is part of what defines us on such a basic level."



"So here’s the thing about changing the world. It turns out that’s not even the question, because you don’t have a choice. You are going to change the world, because that is actually what the world is. You do not pass through this life, it passes through you. You experience it, you interpret it, you act, and then it is different. That happens constantly. You are changing the world. You always have been, and now, it becomes real on a level that it hasn’t been before."
josswhedon  commencementspeeches  debate  ambiguity  2013  empathy  dissent  criticalthinking  humanism  human  humans  tension  contradictions  opposition  perspective  freedom  life  living  change  present  future  commencementaddresses 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Princeton University - Princeton University's 2012 Baccalaureate Remarks: "Don't Eat Fortune's Cookie" Michael Lewis
"This isn't just false humility. It's false humility with a point. My case illustrates how success is always rationalized. People really don’t like to hear success explained away as luck — especially successful people. As they age, and succeed, people feel their success was somehow inevitable. They don't want to acknowledge the role played by accident in their lives. There is a reason for this: the world does not want to acknowledge it either.

The "Moneyball" story has practical implications. If you use better data, you can find better values; there are always market inefficiencies to exploit, and so on. But it has a broader and less practical message: don't be deceived by life's outcomes. Life's outcomes, while not entirely random, have a huge amount of luck baked into them. Above all, recognize that if you have had success, you have also had luck — and with luck comes obligation. You owe a debt, and not just to your Gods. You owe a debt to the unlucky."
success  life  business  commencementspeeches  2012  michaellewis  via:tealtan  commencementaddresses  from delicious
november 2012 by robertogreco
Smith College: Events: Commencement Address 2008, Margaret Edson
[Video here: https://vimeo.com/1085942 and elsewhere online]

"I want to talk about love — not romance, not love l-u-v.
I want to talk about a particular kind of love, this love: classroom teaching.

I have my posse of gaily clad classroom teachers behind me.
They like to be called college professors.
And we can’t all work for the government.

We gather together because of classroom teaching.
We have shown you our love in our work in the classroom.

Classroom teaching is a physical, breath-based, eye-to-eye event.
It is not built on equipment or the past.
It is not concerned about the future.
It is in existence to go out of existence.
It happens and then it vanishes.
Classroom teaching is our gift.
It’s us; it’s this.

We bring nothing into the classroom — perhaps a text or a specimen. We carry ourselves, and whatever we have to offer you is stored within our bodies. You bring nothing into the classroom — some gum, maybe a piece of paper and a pencil: nothing but yourselves, your breath, your bodies.

Classroom teaching produces nothing. At the end of a class, we all get up and walk out. It’s as if we were never there. There’s nothing to point to, no monument, no document of our existence together.

Classroom teaching expects nothing. There is no pecuniary relationship between teachers and students. Money changes hands, and people work very hard to keep it in circulation, but we have all agreed that it should not happen in the classroom. And there is no financial incentive structure built into classroom teaching because we get paid the same whether you learn anything or not.

Classroom teaching withholds nothing. I say to my young students every year, “I know how to add two numbers, but I’m not going to tell you.” And they laugh and shout, “No!” That’s so absurd, so unthinkable. What do I have that I would not give to you?

Bringing nothing, producing nothing, expecting nothing, withholding nothing —
what does that remind you of?
Is this a bizarre occurrence that will go into The Journal of Irreproducible Results?
Or is it something that happens every day, all the time, all over the world,
and is based not on gain and fame, but on love…"
tcsnmy  cv  education  learning  standardization  standardizedtesting  howwelearn  howweteach  whatwedo  production  producing  teaching  commencement  speeches  smithcollege  2008  margaretedson  love  relationships  via:caseygollan  commencementspeeches  commencementaddresses 
november 2012 by robertogreco
Redefining Success and Celebrating the Unremarkable - NYTimes.com
"I wonder if there is any room for the ordinary any more, for the child or teenager — or adult — who enjoys a pickup basketball game but is far from Olympic material, who will be a good citizen but won’t set the world on fire.

We hold so dearly onto the idea that we should all aspire to being remarkable that when David McCullough Jr., an English teacher, told graduating seniors at Wellesley High School in Massachusetts recently, “You are not special. You are not exceptional,” the speech went viral."

“In this world, an ordinary life has become synonymous with a meaningless life.”

“You make a lot of money or have athletic success. That’s a very, very narrow definition. What about being compassionate or living a life of integrity?”
unremarkable  ordinariness  middlemarch  georgeeliot  jeffsnipes  brenebrown  meritocracy  mediocrity  madelinelevine  davidmccullough  alinatugend  2012  meaningmaking  ordinary  wisdom  life  well-being  success  commencementspeeches  commencementaddresses  from delicious
july 2012 by robertogreco
The Chumbawamba Principle: A Commencement Address : Krulwich Wonders... : NPR
"It's time to design a version of yourself that might work. That might make you happy…To Become Somebody ... defined by you…

In high school, in grade school, you didn't have to design yourself. The folks in charge were happy to do it for you. You were marched into a school building at age 3, 4 or 5, placed at a desk or put in a circle, inspected by your teachers. And after that, you did what you were told, what everybody is told to do: Show up and learn stuff…

You can't always name the thing you're going to be. For most people it doesn't work that way. You have to back into it…

My second thought is that — and I'm sorry to tell you this — the designing never ends…

I've had to redesign myself so many times, I can't tell you how many…

Here's the point: When you are trying to create a version of yourself that will one day make you happy, half the battle is know your insides — know your pleasures.

And the other half is to know your outsides — to find allies, partners, mentors."
teaching  cv  adaptability  schools  interdisciplinary  interdisciplinarity  howwelearn  alternative  alternativeeducation  unorthodox  tcsnmy  chumbawambaprinciple  chumbawamba  deschooling  unschooling  schooliness  education  self-knowledge  happiness  work  learning  collegeoftheatlantic  2012  commencementspeeches  robertkrulwich  self-defintion  failure  mistakes  yearoff2  yearoff  change  self-reinvention  reinvention  radiolab  jadabumrad  why  yesbut  whynot  commencementaddresses  from delicious
june 2012 by robertogreco
What They Don't Tell You at Graduation - WSJ.com
"Research tells us that one of the most important causal factors associated with happiness and well-being is your meaningful connections with other human beings…

…if you are going to do anything worthwhile, you will face periods of grinding self-doubt & failure. Be prepared to work through them…

Don't make the world worse…I'm supposed to tell you to aspire to great things. But I'm going to lower the bar here: Just don't use your prodigious talents to mess things up. Too many smart people are doing that already…if you really want to cause social mayhem, it helps to have an Ivy League degree.…

Help stop the Little League arms race. Kids' sports are becoming ridiculously structured & competitive. What happened to playing baseball because it's fun? We are systematically creating races out of things that ought to be a journey…

Read obituaries. They are just like biographies, only shorter. They remind us that interesting, successful people rarely lead orderly, linear lives."
2012  obituaries  happiness  goodenough  advice  well-being  living  charleswheelan  racetonowhere  wisdom  graduation  life  commencementspeeches  commencementaddresses  from delicious
april 2012 by robertogreco
Facebook and the Epiphanator: An End to Endings? -- Daily Intel [Don't rely on the quotes here. Read the whole thing.]
"…should be a word for that feeling you get when an older person…shames himself by telling young people how to live…

Obviously, the Epiphinator will need to slim down in order to thrive, but a careful study of history shows how impossible it is to determine whether it can return to both power & glory, or whether its demise is imminent…

This moment of anxiety and fear will pass; future generations (there's now one every 3-4 years) will have no idea what they missed, & yet they will go on, marry, divorce, & own pets.

They may even work in journalism, not in the old dusty career paths…

We'll still need professionals to organize the events of the world into narratives, & our story-craving brains will still need the narrative hooks, the cold opens, the dramatic climaxes, & that all-important "■" to help us make sense of the great glut of recent history that is dumped over us every morning. No matter what comes along streams, feeds, & walls, we will still have need of an ending."
technology  media  socialmedia  facebook  privacy  paulford  narrative  jonathanfranzen  zadiesmith  billkeller  zeyneptufekci  life  wisdom  journalism  storytelling  endings  epiphinator  love  living  stevejobs  commencementspeeches  wholeearthcatalog  stewartbrand  aaronsorkin  2011  nuance  feral  unfinished  culture  internet  commencementaddresses  from delicious
july 2011 by robertogreco
Conan O’Brien’s Dartmouth Commencement Address ... - AUSTIN KLEON : TUMBLR
"whole address is so good, but I keep coming back to… [part] about how failure to perfectly copy our heroes leads to finding our own voice…

"Way back in the 1940s there was a very, very funny man named Jack Benny. He was a giant star, easily one of the greatest comedians of his generation. And a much younger man named Johnny Carson wanted very much to be Jack Benny. In some ways he was, but in many ways he wasn’t. He emulated Jack Benny, but his own quirks and mannerisms, along with a changing medium, pulled him in a different direction. And yet his failure to completely become his hero made him the funniest person of his generation. David Letterman wanted to be Johnny Carson, and was not, and as a result my generation of comedians wanted to be David Letterman. And none of us are. My peers and I have all missed that mark in a thousand different ways. But the point is this : It is our failure to become our perceived ideal that ultimately defines us and makes us unique.""
conano'brien  dartmouth  creativity  voice  identity  humor  2011  change  mannerisms  johnnycarson  davidletterman  jackbenny  failure  copying  mimicry  quirkiness  personality  mutations  babyboomers  uniqueness  success  nietzsche  disappointment  socialmedia  innovation  spontaneity  satisfaction  convictions  fear  reinvention  perceivedfailure  self-defintion  clarity  originality  commencementspeeches  boomers  commencementaddresses 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Graduation Speech - SLA Class of 2011 - Practical Theory
"And after you have forgotten the granular details of the periodic table of elements, continue to honor the scientific spirit of inquiry, always asking powerful questions and seeking out complex answers.

That is, we hope, what you have learned from us. That inquiry, research, collaboration, presentation and reflection are not just words in a mission statement but an iterative process of learning that can and will serve you the rest of your life if you let it. And perhaps above all else, remember that throughout that process, there are those in your life who have been there, who have cared about you, who have mentored you, and in doing so, hope that you will pay that forward. That you will care for those around you. That you will understand that the intersection of that ethic of care and that spirit of inquiry starts with asking the question, “What do you think?” caring about the answer, and then taking action."
learning  chrislehmann  inquiry  inquiry-basedlearning  education  collaboration  research  presentation  reflection  process  skepticism  ethics  care  questioning  action  actionminded  agency  legacy  persistence  tcsnmy  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  commencementspeeches  commencementaddresses  from delicious
june 2011 by robertogreco
America Via Erica: Coxsackie-Athens Valedictorian Speech 2010 [Wow. Wish I was this wise and aware at that age. Go read the whole thing.]
"A worker is someone who is trapped within repetition—a slave of the system set up before him. But now, I have successfully shown that I was the best slave. I did what I was told to the extreme. While others sat in class & doodled to later become great artists, I sat in class to take notes and become a great test-taker. While others would come to class without their homework done because they were reading about an interest of theirs, I never missed an assignment. While others were creating music and writing lyrics, I decided to do extra credit, even though I never needed it. So, I wonder, why did I even want this position? Sure, I earned it, but what will come of it? When I leave educational institutionalism, will I be successful or forever lost? I have no clue about what I want to do with my life; I have no interests because I saw every subject of study as work, and I excelled at every subject just for the purpose of excelling, not learning. And quite frankly, now I'm scared."

[Update 22 Jan 2014: now made into a comic: http://scudmissile.tumblr.com/post/108840471396/pretentioususernametosoundsmart-gooseko ]
valedictorians  ericagoldson  johntaylorgatto  unschooling  deschooling  criticalthinking  passion  tcsnmy  toshare  topost  learning  education  policy  schools  schooliness  schooling  courage  authoritarianism  slavery  busywork  pleasing  democracy  publiceducation  industrial  goals  process  graduation  emptiness  sameness  mediocrity  cv  storyofmylife  innovation  rote  memorization  standardizedtesting  testing  grades  grading  commencementspeeches  rotelearning  commencementaddresses 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Princeton University - 2010 Baccalaureate remarks [Jeff Bezos]
"What I want to talk to you about today is the difference between gifts and choices. Cleverness is a gift, kindness is a choice. Gifts are easy -- they're given after all. Choices can be hard. You can seduce yourself with your gifts if you're not careful, and if you do, it'll probably be to the detriment of your choices."
2010  jeffbezos  kindness  choices  cleverness  commencement  entrepreneurship  motivation  life  advice  via:kottke  wisdom  amazon  business  choice  lessons  philosophy  education  commencementspeeches  commencementaddresses 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Athenians and Visigoths: Neil Postman’s Graduation Speech » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog
"To be an Athenian is to understand that the thread which holds civilized society together is thin and vulnerable; therefore, Athenians place great value on tradition, social restraint, and continuity. To an Athenian, bad manners are acts of violence against the social order. The modern Visigoth cares very little about any of this. The Visigoths think of themselves as the center of the universe. Tradition exists for their own convenience, good manners are an affectation and a burden, and history is merely what is in yesterday’s newspaper."

[See the comments for discussion of accuracy of Postman's depiction of Athenians and Visigoths.]

[via: http://lukescommonplacebook.tumblr.com/post/742157919/to-be-an-athenian-is-to-understand-that-the-thread ]
neilpostman  commencementspeeches  society  civilization  vulnerability  civics  violence  convenience  tradition  socialrestraint  civility  ego  selfishness  libertarianism  egalitarian  knowledge  learning  empathy  humanism  art  beauty  commerce  corruption  commencementaddresses 
july 2010 by robertogreco
David Foster Wallace commencement address audio
"In 2005, David Foster Wallace gave the commencement address at Kenyon College. After a transcript of the speech was posted online (the original was taken down...a copy is available here), it became something of a high-brow viral sensation and was eventually packaged into book form.

The original audio recording (i.e. as read by Wallace on the Kenyon podium) has just been released on Audible.com and is also available through iTunes and on Amazon (this is the cheapest option). Note: there is also an audiobook version of the speech read by Wallace's sister...but I think the original is the best bet. It's a fantastic speech."
davidfosterwallace  empathy  thisiswater  commencementspeeches  commencementaddresses 
june 2010 by robertogreco
The Economics of Happiness (Bernanke Commencement address) | The Big Picture
"Richard Easterlin showed that...[1] as countries get richer, beyond level where basic needs such as food & shelter are met, people don’t report being any happier...[2] once you get above basic sustenance level–on average, people in rich countries don’t report being all that much happier than people in lower-income countries. ... life satisfaction requires more than just happiness. Sometimes, difficult choices can open the doors to future opportunities, and the short-run pain can be worth the long-run gain. Just as importantly, life satisfaction requires an ethical framework. Everyone needs such a framework. In the short run, it is possible that doing the ethical thing will make you feel, well, unhappy. In the long run, though, it is essential for a well-balanced and satisfying life."
easterlinparadox  wealth  happiness  well-being  economics  benbernake  money  us  gdp  life  lifesatisfaction  ethics  satisfaction  balance  commencementspeeches  shrequest1  commencementaddresses 
may 2010 by robertogreco
YouTube - Class Day Lecture 2009: The Uniqueness of Humans
"On June 13, 2009, Robert Sapolsky, world renowned professor of neurology, neurological sciences, neurosurgery and biological sciences gave the class day lecture in association with commencement weekend 2009. Having been selected to talk by the Stanford University graduating class, Sapolsky spoke about the uniqueness of humans in relation to the rest of the animal world. A few of the topics he spoke on include aggression, theory of mind, the golden rule and pleasure."

[via: http://www.boingboing.net/2009/11/10/sapolskys-outstandin.html ]
science  video  biology  humanity  robertsapolsky  behavior  animals  humans  commencementspeeches  commencementaddresses 
november 2009 by robertogreco
YouTube - Class Day Lecture 2009: The Uniqueness of Humans
"On June 13, 2009, Robert Sapolsky, world renowned professor of neurology, neurological sciences, neurosurgery and biological sciences gave the class day lecture in association with commencement weekend 2009. Having been selected to talk by the Stanford University graduating class, Sapolsky spoke about the uniqueness of humans in relation to the rest of the animal world. A few of the topics he spoke on include aggression, theory of mind, the golden rule and pleasure."

[via: http://www.boingboing.net/2009/11/10/sapolskys-outstandin.html ]
science  video  biology  humanity  robertsapolsky  behavior  animals  humans  commencementspeeches  commencementaddresses 
november 2009 by robertogreco
David Foster Wallace - Telegraph
""The thrust of [The Pale King] is an attempt to look at the dark matter of tedium & boredom & repetition & familiarity that life is made of & through that to find a path to joy & art & everything that matters. Wallace has set himself the task of making a moving & joyful book out of the matter of life that most writers veer away from as hard as they can. & what he left of it is heartbreakingly full & beautiful & deep. He was looking at how one survives.”...Pressed for more details, Pietsch cites a commencement speech that Wallace gave at Kenyon in 2005, which he says is "very much a distillation" of the novel's material. "The really important kind of freedom involves attention & awareness & discipline, & being able truly to care about other people & to sacrifice for them over & over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day. That is real freedom...The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, & lost, some infinite thing."

[via: http://kottke.org/09/08/the-pale-king-and-that-kenyon-commencement-speech ]
davidfosterwallace  via:kottke  thepaleking  life  meaning  writing  philosophy  survival  joy  art  boredom  repetition  familiarity  freedom  attention  caring  awareness  discipline  consciousness  books  commencementspeeches  commencementaddresses 
august 2009 by robertogreco
YouTube - Jonathan Zittrain's Commencement Address to the Shady Side Academy Class of 2009
"Jonathan Zittrain, professor of law, Harvard Law School and Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government and co-founder of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, is a 1987 graduate of Shady Side Academy. He returns 22 years later to deliver the commencement address to the 2009 graduating class!"
jonathanzittrain  commencement  education  life  wisdom  geek  nerds  humanity  wikipedia  schooling  schools  learning  people  behavior  law  advice  commencementspeeches  commencementaddresses 
june 2009 by robertogreco
Grammy-Winning Soul Musician John Legend at UPenn Commencement: "A Commitment to Truth Requires a Commitment to Social Justice"
"A commitment to truth also requires what Patricia Hill Collins calls a “politics of empathy.” I would say that a commitment to truth requires a commitment to social justice.
via:javierarbona  johnlegend  activism  truth  complexity  tcsnmy  commencement  2009  justice  socialjustice  society  empathy  listening  politics  religion  life  wisdom  commencementspeeches  commencementaddresses 
may 2009 by robertogreco
Advice from Patton Oswalt's commencement speech given at the high school he graduated from. (kottke.org)
"Reputation, Posterity and Cool are traps. They'll drain the life from your life. Reputation, Posterity and Cool = Fear. AND There Is No Them." "Amen, brother. Although, think about all of the great art we'd be missing out on if 18yo actually took it."
kottke  schools  schooling  reputation  posterity  life  happiness  meaning  art  commencementspeeches  commencementaddresses 
july 2008 by robertogreco
Smart Mobs » Blog Archive » What I plan to say at De Montfort University commencement
"Pay attention to irrelevant details & follow intriguing but useless connections...novices focus their attention on the fundamental dials & indicators"
attention  generalists  creativity  research  focus  thinking  advice  howardrheingold  learning  work  careers  lcproject  commencementspeeches  commencementaddresses 
july 2008 by robertogreco
J.K. Rowling Commencement : Harvard Magazine - "Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not...
"...and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never shared."
jkrowling  failure  risk  empathy  blogosphere  human  innovation  gamechanging  invention  inspiration  education  learning  activism  success  poverty  harvard  harrypotter  philosophy  classics  society  relationships  psychology  wisdom  imagination  creativity  identity  life  motivation  commencementspeeches  commencementaddresses 
june 2008 by robertogreco
Transcript and video of JK Rowling's Harvard commencement address, The... (kottke.org)
"Imagination as Rowling perceives it is essential in telling other people's stories and is sorely missing in the media today. And the blogosphere can almost be defined by its lack of empathy."
kottke  imagination  jkrowling  empathy  blogosphere  human  innovation  gamechanging  invention  commencementspeeches  commencementaddresses 
june 2008 by robertogreco
Video - J K Rowling speaking at Harvard Commencement. [video and transcript: http://harvardmagazine.com/go/jkrowling.html]
"In this powerful, moving, yet also funny speech Jo talks about her time working for Amnesty International, her personal experiences with failure and the power of the imagination to allow us to empathize with others."
jkrowling  motivation  speech  failure  risk  success  imagination  creativity  life  video  harvard  commencementspeeches  commencementaddresses 
june 2008 by robertogreco
David Foster Wallace - Commencement Speech at Kenyon University
"If you're automatically sure that you know what reality is & you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won't consider possibilities that aren't annoying & miserable. But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options." ... "It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over: "This is water." "This is water." It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive in the adult world day in and day out. Which means yet another grand cliché turns out to be true: your education really IS the job of a lifetime. And it commences: now. I wish you way more than luck."
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december 2005 by robertogreco

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